… And have you said THANKS?


So here we are, a few days after Christmas and a few more before the New Year – which, as we all know, means resolutions, new beginnings, a new look toward the future. I’m all for short term goals that are, more often than not, broken within 72 hours, but I feel like I can’t move forward without stopping to take a moment, to acknowledge  those who’ve  helped me survive this year. So in no particular order:

My kids:

I have exposed you (and us) to the world by writing these columns. In doing so, I have shared how I feel, both good and bad, happy and sad, proud and ready to sell you on eBay. You’re amazing boys and I am humbled daily watching you grow.  Every parent wants better for their kids than they had themselves, and at only 16 and 11, you are well on your way.  You’re strong emotionally, kind, smart and funny in your own ways. Sadly I can’t provide everything you deserve, but you don’t judge, you don’t condemn, and you’re thankful for what we have. As a parent, that is an amazing gift, one that I didn’t learn until far later in life.

My work family:

Never before have I met a more impressive group of people.  You fight for people who can’t fight for themselves, and you do so with heart, integrity, and more compassion than I’ve ever seen before. I have seen our clients transform from being insecure, uncertain and afraid to strong, independent, and triumphant in advocating for themselves.  As a former (and sometimes current) client myself, I can assure you that journey is life-altering, and it can only be done with a support team that believes in them. On behalf of all of them, thank you for believing in us.

My biological family:

I rarely call, I sometimes write but I think about each of you all the time. You have supported me in your own ways, and have loved me unconditionally. I am neurotic, I get that – but you continue to love me anyway. Regardless of whether we’ve visited recently or many moons ago, you’re my family, and no amount of time or distance can change that (no matter how hard you try J ). I miss that we are not close enough to just have dinner, or drop-in visits, but each of you has helped make me the person I am. California, Tennessee, Texas, New York, Wyoming, Ohio… I love you all so very much.

My adopted family:

I don’t have friends really, I just tend to adopt more family. So to all my countless moms, dads, siblings, cousins, uncles, and aunts, you weren’t born into my life, you CHOOSE to be a part of it.  The fact that you stay, well, I’m not sure what that says about you, but speaking for myself, I appreciate each and every one of you. You’re there for me when I need you, (you put me in my place when I need that too) and you share in my joys, my triumphs, and comfort me when I’m sad. Thank you for loving me enough to celebrate and share your holidays, your joys, your uneventful Tuesdays with me and mine.

To the people who read my column:

You thought I forgot about you?  I am a single parent; I live my life on a day to day basis, literally making it up as I go along. You will never know how much it means to me each time someone leaves a comment that says basically, “you’re on the right track”.  You look into my home life every other week and you do so knowing you’ll hear the truth, the honesty, the fears I have in raising my kids, and more often than not you’re willing to help guide me on that journey.  Thank you so much for confirming that this crazy ride called parenthood is one that we all fight to survive, not just me.

I only get an average of 900 words, but please know I’m well aware of the fact that not everyone was mentioned – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate you. You hopefully understand that I didn’t survive this year,I thrived in it.  No matter which of the above categories you fit into, you have all contributed to my year.

Between the baby steps and giant leaps of faith, I have gained self-confidence. I have fought the good fight that is raising teenagers, and though I’m limping off this year’s battlefield, I’m able to tell the tale. I have found the belief in myself to not only decide to go back to school, but have taken the steps to make that college dream a reality. I have loved, lost, fought and won… and none of it would have been possible without people like you in my corner.

Please take a moment, not to analyze the past, but acknowledge the present, appreciate the journey to get there, and be thankful to those that stand by your side as you do it. When you move forward into the New Year, do so with your head held high, your spirits and dreams intact because there is no reason that they can’t come true.

2011 was a life-changing year.  2012 is ours to conquer.

Wendy Syler Woodward, 37, has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 11 and 16.   Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and is preparing to go back to college before the end of the year.